Thursday, April 10, 2008

Dear Wanks: Stephane Dion Has Your "Separation of Church and State" Right Here

Are anti-religious protesters equal-opportunity protesters?

It seems like a silly thing, but there were people in Canada who shit kittens the second Prime Minister Stephen Harper started saying "god bless Canada".

"Is it just me or does anyone else find it ominous that Harper says 'God bless Canada'?" asked Linda McQuaig in a column at

"Stephen Harper is a radical neocon theocrat [and] the media is too even-handed," insisted Jeff Monaghan, who would eventually be arrested for leaking confidential documents during his employment at Environment Canada.

"God Bless Canada is an obvious aping of American politicians finishing their speeches with 'Thank you. God bless America'," wrote one frantic (and unidentifiable) demagogue. "'God Bless Canada' does not mean 'I love Canada'. I am honestly please. At best, it means 'I love Alberta'. Harper hates Canada."

When Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory suggested the Ontario government should fund all religious schools, as opposed only to Catholic schools, Toronto Star readers sounded off repeatedly about the "separation of church and state".

Now, Liberal leader Stephane Dion has announced he'd like to provide a $75 million fund to help places of worship targeted for vandalism by varying bigots protect their property.

Which, although laudable, naturally makes a lot less sense than providing religious organizations with tax dollars in order to fund education.

The fact is that Dion's proposal is actually quite benign. As was John Tory's plan to fund faith-based schools, and as is Stephen Harper saying "god bless Canada".

Will those who protested Harper and Tory in the name of separation of church and state now protest Stephane Dion?

One severely doubts it, but only time will tell.


  1. I don't know if I completely agree with your assessment of the Liberal plan. I'm not sure if it's the same as Harper saying "God bless Canada" nor the same as John Tory's plan to fund religious schools.

    I think the difference lies in what the money is used for and what signal it sends to larger society.

    When Harper says "God bless Canada" he's not evangelizing but he's making a theological statement and is essentially praying for the country. Furthermore, while it isn't an explicitly Christian statement, it is certainly perceived publically that way and has been branded as a Christian thing to do.

    John Tory's plan was to make private religious school an affordable option for everyone. He didn't want a low-income religious family to have to send their kids to public school because they couldn't afford private school. This is more or less a similar, yet different, signal to what Dion is doing. Here, Tory says that as a society we value religious schools and that equal opportunity should be given to families to attend either a public or religious (private) one. This was the huge bone that many secularists, and some religious civilians, had.

    What Dion's proposal is saying is that as a society we do not tolerate defamation of religious institutions and places of worship. As a society, we uphold these institutions as important and that as a society that respects one another, we will help one another rebuild and repair places of worship that have been vandalized because of hate.

    And I think he's right. Even though I am a Christian of the Anabaptist faith, if a Synagogue or Mosque was vandalized, I would support public funding going to their buildings to repair the damage. I believe these institutions are important to our society at large, even though I am not a member either one of them.

    On the benignometer I think Dion's plan is on the lower end as well as possibly Harper's ridiculous farewell statement (even though it's exclusive and Judeo-Christian centric). But John Tory's plan does bring the state and the church maybe a little too close for comfort (despite my support for it).

  2. I think the bigger question, Dylan, is this: do any of these things violate the separation of church and state (at least in ways that haven't already been constitutionally entrenched, vis a vis Catholic schooling)?

    That's the point I'm raising.

    And if Harper and Tory are so horrible, then shouldn't the people who said so say the same thing about Dion?

    I'll be honest with you: I actually think Dion's plan is a good one. I just want to see the anti-religion lobby be honest about it.

  3. "I'll be honest with you: I actually think Dion's plan is a good one. I just want to see the anti-religion lobby be honest about it."



Post your comments, and join the discussion!

Be aware that spam posts and purile nonsense will not be tolerated, although purility within constructive commentary is encouraged.

All comments made by Kevron are deleted without being read. Also, if you begin your comment by saying "I know you'll just delete this", it will be deleted. Guaranteed. So don't be a dumbass.